Consumerist Comments Revamped

We’re rolling out a majorly revamped comments system today (it’s not live yet, but will be soon) that should make communicating on the site much easier. The biggest change is the introduction of “threaded comments” to replace the straight chronologically ordered system. The idea is to organize replies more logically and make discussing the post at hand–and other users’ reactions to it–easier to do and digest. Hit up any post with comments to start tinkering with the new system yourself, or read on to get the full rundown of what’s changed and why.

What’s threaded commenting?

Threading is a way to make comments read more like conversations instead of a bunch of disconnected single replies. Now, when someone says something interesting enough to get replies from other readers, all those replies will appear directly below the original comment. Each of these blocks is called a “thread”–kind of like in Gmail.

The first comment in a thread will have a few distinguishing features, among them, the number of replies in the thread along with the time of the most recent reply.

Click the arrow on the lower right side to open a reply input box directly underneath the comment–there’s no need to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to reply.

Once your reply publishes, you’ll notice that like in an IM conversation, your avatar will appear on the right.

Replies to replies–sometimes known as second or third (or fourth) level replies–will not be indented as is the custom in most forums. Instead, second and third level replies will be collapsed.

What happens when you reply to a reply? Why aren’t threads indented like in most tech forums, like Digg?

Replies to replies–sometimes known as second or third (or fourth) level replies–will not be indented as is the custom in most forums. Instead, the avatar will switch sides again–like in an IM conversation. All even numbered nested replies (second, fourth, etc.) will appear on the left side, while odd numbered replies will be on the right. Second and third level replies will also be collapsed.

Are threads still displayed in chronological order?

Each conversation will be displayed in chronological order. But organization of the conversations overall will be displayed based on popularity. The most popular conversations will migrate to the top. The most recent comment that has no replies will appear on top for 15 minutes before being filtered down. If a more active conversation receives a reply within those 15 minutes, that conversation will overtake the stand-alone comment.

Where did the plus and minus go?

The plus and minus, which was used to friend or un-friend a fellow commenter, has been replaced by a heart. Your friends will show up with a red heart, and the rest are empty.

What’s the deal with the star again?

Star commenters were readers who have 25 or more followers, or were designated as stars by a comments admin. With the introduction of threading, the number of followers required to attain star is increasing to 40. Commenter admins also hand out stars to commenters who may not have 40 followers, but illuminate our lives with flashes of brilliance.

Is there a way to view comments “old-school” style?

You can switch to the old style comments layout by clicking the “classic view” link in the comments bar at the top of the threads.

Don’t forget that we also have a Consumerist Comments code which are the guidelines for what kinds of comments to make, and to make sure you don’t get banned.

So, commenters–go ahead and kick the tires on threaded comments right here–and let us know what you think about the changes.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. se7a7n7 says:

    Sounds cool. Can this comment be threaded?

  2. MercuryPDX says:

    Yay

  3. MissTicklebritches says:

    No! The biggest change is that you’ll be taking away my newly-earned star! WAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

  4. Bladefist says:

    ah crap- Well you can find all my comments at the bottom :)

    Good addition consumerist! It should make it easier to follow conversations.

  5. forgottenpassword says:

    NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

    I hate change!

  6. Mollyg says:

    These changes are probably good, however it will make it far more difficult to locate new comments that have been posted since you last read the article.

  7. mac-phisto says:

    what determines the “popularity” of a comment? is it just replies?

  8. MercuryPDX says:

    [Kicks tires..... car explodes]

  9. Not Alvis says:

    What’s wrong with simple comment comments?

    There’s way too much social-networking fluff in this.

  10. mac-phisto says:

    umm…is this browser-specific? i see no change in IE6 or in ff3. rollout not complete yet?

    also…what happens when you reply to multiple posters – do you just appear nested under the first person you respond to?

  11. Meggers says:

    Dagnabbit, 40 followers? I’ll never get a star now as I certainly won’t illuminate anyones lives with flashes of brilliance. I do like the threading though, should be very helpful for those posts that get over 100+ comments.

  12. Ben Popken says:

    The change hasn’t happened yet, it should in a few minutes, this is just a preview post.

    • chauncy that billups says:

      @Ben Popken: I’m assuming that average, workaday commenters won’t actually have the links to ‘disemvowel’, ‘give star’, ‘ban’, etc. that you have in your screenshot… You’ve given us a glimpse into the all-powerful hand of the moderator. nice…

  13. mac-phisto says:

    @Ben Popken: looks pretty cool…i could live with this change.

    as bladefist mentions – will ROZ be receiving some upgrades to the banhammer as well?

  14. MercuryPDX says:

    Looks like (so far) only 20 comments per page. :(

  15. Edward Sparkles says:

    Hmm, I clicked the ‘Classic View’ button and don’t see any difference.

    The time stamp is very…ghostly.

  16. elisa says:

    I don’t like that it’s now 20 comments/ page versus 100.

  17. ? graffiksguru says:

    Yeah, been waiting for this for awhile! Glad Gawker is finally getting with the program. Although, some posts can have 200+ comments, and I’m not sure if I’ll feel like going through 10 pages of comments, if you can only fit 20 on a page now (vs 100).

  18. Banned in DC says:

    Hmm, I still don’t see anything different (FF3). Other than the 20 comment per page limit (which sucks, by the way), the comment formatting now looks like some css lines are missing. The time is oddly located in comments and in the reply box (where it overlays my typing), there’s no borders around anything, and there’s still “@name:” reply markers in comments.

  19. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I’m gonna really miss 100 comments per page (especially since links to previous comments don’t seem to work across pages) but otherwise this is nifty.

  20. I am happy that, even though there is a change, there is a “classic” option.
    Too many sites throw these huge changes at its users but do not give such an option.

    On a side note, I have been curious as to why the “preview comment” option is always disabled. I could have sworn it use to remember to leave the box ticked for me.

    Also, why can I no longer see how many comments there are while reading an article?

  21. windycity says:

    What’s with allowing anonymous “guest” commenting?

  22. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    Don’t really like the threaded comments, but I REALLY REALLY don’t like the 20 posts per page…

    • no.no.notorious says:

      @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: i have to agree with that. I also think that it doesn’t look as “clean.” sometimes, the ‘box’ look can get in the way. it sort of looks too much like a mac chat, or a power point presentation. I do like that replies are right under who you replied to, and that the graphic is on the right to distinguish.

    • mariospants says:

      @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: I’m with you on that 100%. I guess it has a lot to do with: if there are a lot of replies threaded, we need to make space. i.e. those 20 posts could potentially have 30 replies each in them.

  23. snoop-blog says:

    Not bitching here, but if it wasn’t broke why did you fix it?

  24. snoop-blog says:

    Well the classic view isn’t really classic, but I’ll have to gradually get use to the water step by step. Or I may just say fuck it and jump right on in…

  25. 1nut says:

    How long does it take to get comments priveleges approved. I have a story to post

  26. Meggers says:

    Is anyone else having a problem with the time stamp being shown over the comments? It’s hella annoying.

  27. snoop-blog says:

    Classic mode FTW!!!

    • floydianslip6 says:

      I think an indent for replies might be in order, it’s not obvious enough when I’m scrolling through that certain items are re-ordered as replies to an original comment.

      I guess this would be similar to the youtube comment indent… yah know?

    • xman31 says:

      @snoop-blog: I like the threaded comments, however I definitely like the look of the old comments.

  28. snoop-blog says:

    Ben, is it possible to make the stars stick out a little more? I sometimes use to just scroll until I saw a star (sticking out of the side of the comment) and read those comments. Can u make them bigger, or off to the side of these text boxes?

  29. Subliminal0182 says:

    Still no edit button?

  30. newberrycrater says:

    can we get up and down voting like on digg engadget slashdot etc? I think that would solve a lot of the problems with trolls.

  31. AdvocatesDevil says:

    Oh no! Change! Run for the hills! :)

  32. Ben Popken says:

    Keep that feedback coming. I’ll make sure it gets passed on to techs and they’ll make the tweaks as necessary.

  33. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    I’m so confused, it makes me angry and it makes me want to go victim blaming.

    /blames self

  34. sam says:

    Looking forward to facebook account commenting!

  35. TVarmy says:

    This is great! I’ve hated having to use add-ons/Greasemonkey scripts to get the comments threaded right.

  36. mgy says:

    Everything I thought I knew about commenting has changed. I’ll be in my closet.

  37. JulesNoctambule says:

    Well, crap. Five minutes into trying it out and I’m already confused! Technology: 5; Me: 0.

  38. Testing.

  39. BytheSea says:

    I like the threaded comments, but the popularity thing seems juvenile and confusing.

  40. mariospants says:

    odd little graphics in the “corners”… is that a glitch to be rectified or are the graphics just assets snagged from a different site?

    You forgot one BIG HUGE MAJOR CHANGE: latest post goes up on top… discussion must ensue about that one.

    • mariospants says:

      @mariospants: OK, on the one hand, I like that we don’t ever get “first” announcements with this new system, BUT I have to admit that the quality of posts tends to diminish as time goes on…

  41. vladthepaler says:

    Threading is a nice addition. But instead of seeing the replies to a comment, I’m seeing e.g. “3 replies by…” (list of repliers). That’s not very useful, and might discourage people from replying to a comment: if I reply to a comment, my reply is hidden away, but if I reply to the post, my comment is visible.

    So: Yay threading, but threads should not be collapsed by default!

  42. vladthepaler says:

    Um. Also, it’s only showing 20 comments at a time instead of 100? Boo and hiss! Please fix this problem so that it shows all comments a post has, or if you really feel like there must be a limit, return the limit to 100.

  43. trujunglist says:

    I like this.

  44. ratattak says:

    hmmm… much much nicer!

  45. snoop-blog says:

    NOOOOOOO! NOT GIZ TOO!!!! Man I bet fleshbot has also done the same.

  46. SkokieGuy says:

    Not loving it either. If you refresh your browser to see the newest comments it gets confusing.

    Since posts with comments will jump ahead of more recent posts, it can be difficult to follow. I don’t mind the threaded comments, but don’t like the collapsing of comments on replies and don’t like changing the chronological order, based on quantity of comments received.

    Doesn’t this also mean that troll posts(which can generate lots of angry comments) will jump to the top, most prominent position?

    • Jonbo298 says:

      @SkokieGuy: Yeah, its going to get extremely difficult to keep follow of whats new. This may actually turn me away from looking at comments even with the Classic View there.

      Also the fact when you open a threaded comment line, it’s hard to easily spot where the threaded ends without looking above at amount of replies in the thread (aka, indent the threaded responses)

    • thefastest says:

      @SkokieGuy: totally agree. attention whores can just respond to the top-most comment to get their comment viewed first. also, going back to look at new comments will be difficult because i’ll have to read through the entire list again because new comments won’t simply be at the bottom.

    • snoop-blog says:

      @SkokieGuy: it does indeed which will also encourage trolls to be trolls, since they are just wanting attention.

      try switching to classic view, it’s not exactly the same look, but at least most current comments are at the end like it use to be. Also replies are old school when in classic mode so the whole collapsable deal is out, and trolls no longer steal the top of the page.

      • Jonbo298 says:

        @snoop-blog: Yep, while it discourages “First!” posts which can be deleted and ban for making them easily, it will encourage trolls. Neither system will be perfect but I’d rather deal with First! comments that do get deleted/banned then lingering trolls grabbing the top spot. Changing to classic, not all will do unfortunately.

  47. feralparakeet says:

    This is confusing and kinda ugly, I’m sad to say. The boxes aren’t too terrible, but indentation is very necessary and the collapsing isn’t necessarily a good thing.

    Also, not every IM conversation involves icons switching sides, and I think I’d get a headache if Pidgin pulled something like that in later versions.

  48. levenhopper says:

    I’m digging the fact that if you want to reply to a comment, the log-in shows in the drop down box, instead of having to scroll all the way to the bottom.

  49. silver-bolt says:

    How skiffy :D Too bad none of the replies are indented. A 5 px margin would be nice on those.

  50. gtabacchi says:

    I like most of the changes, but I really dislike the comments no longer being in chronological order. Maybe it is just one of my pet peeves, but it makes it so much harder to follow a conversation, and to avoid making repeat posts.

  51. SJActress says:

    I don’t like this either.

    And still no edit button? Boo.

  52. SJActress says:

    And, yet again, I have to double post in order to get my comment on the page.

  53. MrAndy1369 says:

    Looks good! :)

  54. Marshfield says:

    I dunno, having the comments at the top and then the bottom and all over the place kinda turns my head inside out. But perhaps it’ll make more sense in a few days. Right now it’s disturbing.

  55. Marshfield says:

    Will we ever be able to edit or delete our own posts? Now THAT would be fabulous.

  56. reflection717 says:

    Ugh, more comments per page please and keep it in chronological order. I can’t follow a thing here. Unless I comment (for no reason) to be able to go back to my comment and follow the thread. I don’t mind change at all but there is truth to the saying, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    Put it in Chron. order and you’re one step closer.

  57. Overheal says:

    Hey Editor Person! Wouldnt it make more sense to Indent replies to the right a few spaces?

  58. purplesun says:

    I don’t like this at all. I was trying to find a comment I was reading earlier this afternoon (to “pick up where I left off”, if you will) and now I see they’re all jumbled up.

    This is a terrible change. It makes it really hard to keep track of discussions. I wish classic view was truly classic. Trying to keep track of what side someone’s picture is on, what shape the box is, and what time the reply was made is giving me a massive headache. Clicking on a person’s name following the “@” symbol was straight forward enough.

    I’m giving it a thumb’s down. :(

  59. Ein2015 says:

    The layout is confusing me. This whole non-indenting thing doesn’t make sense. :( I suppose I’ll get used to it eventually. Hopefully.

    • ReidFleming says:

      @Ein2015: I completely agree. The lack of indentation is a huge issue for me. I also have to agree that the re-organization of the order of comments based on ‘popularity’ is absolutely crazy… or, at the very least, bordering on arbitrary.

      Perhaps I’m too used to commenting on digg but I’m not so sure. This current implementation, while promising, seems flawed.

  60. Benny Gesserit says:

    OK, I commented on LifeHacker that I like the new style, but more and more I find it difficult to follow and, as someone pointed out above, impossible to “pick up where I left off’.

    I’ve had greasemonkey aimed at this page for close to an hour and I’ve had only limited luck rearranging things back to the way they were. Wish me luck, eh? Gonna be a LONG night.

  61. JulesNoctambule says:

    Wow, much fewer comments per page now, too, which makes for a lot more pages to click through. I think I prefer the old, unimproved version.

  62. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    I have to say I don’t like the new format either. I’ve gone back to the classic view. Usually I like site upgrades, and this is the very first I’ve come across on Consumerist that gets a thumbs-down from me.

  63. Zulujines says:

    I don’t know what it is, but somehow this new format makes me want to read the comments less. It seems like more work, somehow. There’s a lot less text per page, I think, and it’s harder to stay interested.

  64. u1itn0w2day says:

    NEY , Don’t like the new format but appreciate your efforts and the option to go classic.

    The new format seems like too much work and I’d rather go through as many comments as possible.I found some interesting and usefull comments by browsing through them all.

    Thanks Again for more options !

  65. sleze69 says:

    - Too many pages. 20 posts/page is WAY too low

    - Need to return to chronological posts

    - The looks is actually pretty nice

    - How do you strikethrough words?

  66. Trae says:

    I like the threaded view, but I don’t like having to page through comments. That’s just irritating.

  67. metsarethe... says:

    Might I suggest the ability to choose classic as default for all articles vs having to switch on every article.

    Once I respond to someone, it pushes the post to the top, therefore I “lose my place” when reading the other comments.

    I think that is the biggest issue when going back to an article, you can’t read comments where you’ve left off

  68. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I also prefer “classic view” where I can “pick up where I left off”.

    20 comments per page is was too low. At least put in a “First Page 1 2 3 4 5 Last Page” option so we don’t have to scroll thru all pages to get to the latest entry.

  69. oldtaku says:

    This is a gawker-wide change… Consumerist is just a ‘consumer’ of it. So all these complaints are going to be second hand at best. Did someone else already say that? Perhaps, but I can’t tell with only 20 comments per page.

    • purplesun says:

      @sarusa: And the main-boys at Gawker apparently don’t give a damn what anybody thinks (from tone of the main post about the change).

      Is this a consumer issue, Consumerist?

      Eh. There are lots of websites. I won’t stick around with one that annoys me. Let your wallet (or ad-based view revenues) do the talking, right? I’ll check back in a week to see if the situation has improved.

      Adios!

    • Ghettoshark says:

      The threading is a good change, but wasn’t that available with a Firefox add-on? And the 20 per page is really annoying. Maybe we could have a “preferences” page, where we could change it up to where we like it?

  70. SunnyLea says:

    The Good: The Look
    The Threading
    The Expand All Button

    The Bad: The Collapsing to Being With
    The 20 Per Page
    The Icon Side Switching Rather Than Indent

    The Ugly: The Lack of Chronological Order

    (That last one’s a dealbreaker, I think. Seems to almost undermine the beauty of threading.)

  71. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I don’t like it one bit, although maybe I’ll eventually get used to it.

    I will say I think only 20 comments per page in “classic” view is way too few.

  72. dragonfire81 says:

    I am kind of the fence on these new changes, but we REALLY need an edit button!

  73. msbluesky says:

    This will make it easier to follow those long threads where twelve people are having six different conversations and I can never figure out who is replying to whom. Nice move! Or at least I hope it cuts back on all of the posts where people go off on crazy tangents when they think someone’s offended them – or they’ve offended someone – when really they just read a comment meant for someone else.

    Good work.

  74. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’m sorry but I can’t take it anymore-I need 100 post per page again.The new format is too busy and seems like more work.

    Again,thanks for even considering a change and upgrade.

  75. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    This thread is up to 144 comments on 8 pages. 6 too many. I just hacked the url at the top ?cpage=8 to jump to the last page.

  76. SJActress says:

    I can’t tell what the hell is going on anymore. Two comments in a row, and somehow one is 20th and one is 70th. This is suxxors, and VERY confusing. Not because it’s NEW, but because it’s unnecessarily stupid.

    I still want my EDIT button…PLEASE.

  77. Ohmigod, the horror! What is going on!? I’m so confused!

  78. ottawa_guy says:

    These new comments are very confusing.

    I hate the 20 per page, bring it back to 100

    Better yet Consumerist.com page styles from last week FTW!

  79. Oxzimmaron says:

    Horrible. As others have said, hopeless if you try to come back later to pick up where you left off. Lots of comments will just be “lost” and never read by many people anyway, so what’s the point of bothering? Reading down through the comments is like time travel in a bad way. The 20 post per page thing is annoying too, and persists in classic mode.

  80. Angryrider says:

    Fantastic! I love it! And it works with Firefox!

  81. lannister80 says:

    Congrats! Slashdot had this 8 years ago…

  82. Vilgrom says:

    I love commenting!

  83. gibbergabber says:

    I’m fed up with trying to post on Consumerist. I love reading it since it keeps me informed, but it’s very frustrtating to not be able to comment. I’ve been submitting comments for over a month now and none of them get posted. I feel like the poor kid standing outside the exclusive country club begging to get in.

  84. MissPeacock says:

    Just wanted to echo the thoughts of others here: I hate, hate, hate the fact that the comments are all out of order. I read part of this thread yesterday and when I came back this morning, it was impossible to figure out where I’d stopped reading. It makes me not want to even bother coming back to discussions I’ve found interesting.

    As for the new look, I rather like it, although I wish that replies were indented a bit for ease of reading.

  85. cerbie says:

    OK, how do I get more comments per page? 20 posts per page is plain tedious. All on one page would be ideal, of course, but the old 100 per page was alright.

    • cerbie says:

      @cerbie: …and non-chronological order is bad. The layout of posts (threaded/flat), number per page (I can haz 1000? :)), and order of posts (evil/chronological) should be made options that are saved (so it does not need to be changed as finding the link and causing the page to be reloaded).

      • MissPeacock says:

        @cerbie: I don’t think it’s actually twenty POSTS per page; rather, 20 threads per page. So if you have a thread with 100 posts within it, they will all show up on that one page, along with 19 other threads. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

        • cerbie says:

          @MissPeacock: that looks right, but that still means it can be 20 per page, and it is difficult to find anything. Case in point: I could not search for my name to find the last comment to start reading from again (I haven’t come back to this post since I last commented), as I gave threaded view a chance. It was not on any of the pages (well, as part of a comment title), using FF’s find in page. No sweat with classic view. Expand all didn’t seem to work.

          If threaded view is to be useful, it needs to show the full thread. As in, a full tree, with all usernames and dates, all nicely indented, like threaded views in forums and ML archives. IE, I should have to do no more work than previously to find a certain comment to start reading from, just have better organization.

          Then, it again needs more posts/threads per page, like 100. In classic view, this post’s comments span 2 pages. Easy. In threaded view, it takes 5.

          I do like the new comment being visually right under the comment being replied to.

  86. conformco says:

    Yeah, not liking this. I agree with the others who have said it’s hard to follow comments if you come back later. If you insist on it being threaded, can you at least use a conventional format – like indenting threads. The icon switching sides doesn’t cut it for me.

  87. nsv says:

    I liked this at first, but now that this thread is up to 8 pages I see how difficult it is. I switched to classic view to try to figure out where I left off.

    It would be nice to have an option in my profile to use classic view all the time, instead of clicking it in each thread. (An extra mouse click! O, the horror!)

    And I really do like having 100 comments on each page. If I’m searching for a comment left by someone it’s much easier to search 100 comments at a time, rather than searching 20, move to another page, search again, and so on. (MORE clicks! What is the world coming to? [*gasp*])

    I appreciate the time and effort that went into the redesign, but I’m spoiled by the old format. And somehow I never had much trouble following conversations. It was easy enough to backtrack if I needed to, though most people are clear enough in their posts to make it obvious what they’re replying to.

    • nsv says:

      @nsv: Yowza, I just posted a comment and switched from classic view to threaded view. And switching back to classic view bounced me back to page 1. [expletive self-edited]

  88. typetive says:

    Can we get some pagination for multiple page comments? Sometimes I know where I left off last time I visited the thread.

    And right now I’m demonstrating something else, I’m not reading the most recent comments to find out if others are complaining about the same thing.

  89. cerbie says:

    OK, now in classic view, it shows 100 per page.
    But, if I reply, it goes to threaded view, so I have to go to classic and find that post again to continue.

  90. BrianDaBrain says:

    I like it! Hip hip hooray for the improved comments feature!

  91. cerbie says:

    Aside: I don’t think threaded view is bad, just that classic/threaded should be stateful, in a cookie, and chronological order is the only order that ever makes any real sense, if you actually intend to read all the comments. Also, both views should show boatloads of comments per page.

  92. synergy says:

    Finally.